A SAii-ght for sore eyes.
By Shaan Bajaj
I am a self-proclaimed island girl at heart; the feeling of soft white sand under my feet, the sound of the waves, the summer sun working on my tan, all while I catch a faint aroma of salt in the air, is quite literally my idea of paradise. There is something unexplainably calming about it all, and I often come away with a sense of tranquillity after a trip to the beach. My three days at SAii Phi Phi Island Village was no different, and it left me feeling rejuvenated and reconnected to the universe.
Located on the northeast coast of Phi Phi Island, at Loh Ba Gao Bay, SAii Phi Phi Island Village is nestled amongst 70 acres of coconut palm plantations, with 800m of soft, powdery white sand amongst turquoise waters. It is the epitome of a tropical island, tucked away from the eyes of the world, and where you can truly let go of your responsibilities. To make the most of your stay, pack plenty of bikinis, a pair of sunglasses, and sunscreen!
The hotel graciously picked me up from Phuket International Airport, where I was taken to the Royal Phuket Marina to catch a speed boat to SAii Phi Phi Island Village. I audibly gasped as the hotel came into view; photos don’t do justice to how truly breathtaking the landscape is. The image of crystal clear blue waters, a blue sky, and its pristine white beach will forever remain etched in my memory.
As I stepped off the boat and onto the shores, I was welcomed by two lovely individuals playing the guitar and bongo while one of them sang “Stand By Me”, before being handed a cool towel and welcome drink that tasted like summer. Once I checked in, I downloaded the SAii app, where I was told I would find everything I needed. The app made my stay so much easier, as I used it to chat to reception, call golf carts to pick me up, and I could even book my spa treatments and excursions through it.
The property is built a little like a Thai village, with 189 traditional Thai-style bungalows and 12 exclusive hillside pool villas. For my three days, I stayed at their spacious Ocean View Hillside Pool Villa. The villa feels like your own beach house, where you have a living area fitted with a cosy couch, TV, and desk. Separating your bedroom and living area is a large walk in closet and bathroom. The bedroom is a comfortable oasis, with another TV in case you wanted to watch your shows while in bed. All rooms face your private pool area and Loh Ba Gao Bay, giving you uninterrupted views at all times of the day. One of my favourite part of this trip was waking up to the bay and watching the tide slowly come in while the sky changed colours. Unsurprisingly, I spent as much time as I could at this villa, swimming in the privacy of my own pool and tanning my afternoon away while admiring the view.
Drinking & Dining
Personally, what I eat on holiday is a big priority for me. I love a big hotel breakfast, with countless options, and I was incredibly satisfied with SAii Phi Phi Island Village’s feast. Their breakfast restaurant, Api Restaurant and Bar, featured pancakes, waffles, freshly cooked eggs of your choice, and an array of breads, including eggless and vegetarian options. They also serve Indian and Thai breakfast classics, like pao bhaji and yellow noodles, respectively. Breakfast was such a treat during my stay. It is also their all-day dining restaurant that focuses on international cuisine, so you can enjoy lunch and dinner there too. In the evening, it is a great spot for a drink or two, while live singers will serenade you and encourage you to join in.
The property boasts another four dining outlets, starting with bean/Co, a café situated few steps away from Api Restaurant and Bar, serving the best coffee on the property. Alongside artisanal coffee, they prepare freshly made pastries, sandwiches, and smoothies. I spent a few hours at the café to get in some work, all while sipping on a revitalising watermelon and mint smoothie.
I was pleasantly surprised to find Mr. Tom Yam, a pool-side restaurant available at SAii Laguna Phuket, serving their signature menu filled with everything you can want in between your swim, from pizzas, to Thai classics, sandwiches, fries, and drinks. I plonked myself down on one of the chairs, with the pool and beach in front of me, and ordered a fresh coconut water and their vegetarian Tomato and mozzarella panini.
For dinner, on my first night I made my way to The Beach House Grill & Chill, a Caribbean-inspired beach hut offering sundowners alongside grilled meats and fresh seafood. Their cocktails promise to quench your thirst, while their dishes fulfil your soul. On the second evening of my stay, I ate at Ruan Thai Restaurant, where authentic Thai flavours take centre stage. The name, Ruan Thai, means Thai house style, and true to its name, they have designed the restaurant like a house to offer you a local experience. My entire dinner was so comforting, and I truly felt at home.
Activities & Spa
Over the course of my three-day stay, I was eager to immerse myself into island living and connect with my surroundings. One of the ways to take full advantage of the stunning landscapes is to try a water sport. SAii Phi Phi Island Village offer a range of activities to choose from, which are easy to book through their app. At their Marine Discovery Centre, located on the shore, you can partake in clownfish feeding, an activity the little ones are bound to enjoy. They also offer snorkelling, paddleboarding, and kayak rentals, along with a five-star PADI centre, where you can learn to dive.
As I had never kayaked before, I figured it was an ideal time to try something new. I rented a kayak to paddle through the mangrove forest, which plays a significant role in the island’s biodiversity and ecosystem. The water was crystal clear, and you may even spot many different fishes as you kayak. While I struggled to paddle along, and my arms felt like jelly by the end of my adventure, it is an experience I highly recommend, and one I will cherish.
After the intense arm workout, I could not wait to treat myself to the spa. The Lèn Forest Spa is nestled amongst the trees, perched on the hillside. I was welcomed in, and served a refreshing and warm welcome drink. As I sipped on my drink, I was presented with five different moods to choose from for my session: adventure, relax, family, culture, and romance. I chose relax, and I did fall into a deep relaxation during my spa session. I am a big advocate of taking time to pamper yourself, and getting a spa treatment on holiday is one of my favourite ways to unwind.
The Inside Scoop
Khun Peera the General Manager of SAii Phi Phi Island Village, shares his insight into what makes this property a one-of-a-kind stay.
Koh Phi Phi’s natural pristine white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise waters attract visitors from across the globe. How do you offer a unique experience for guests staying at SAii Phi Phi Island Village?
This area is surrounded by coconut palm trees, and to draw on that our M.I.Y. Aroma Lab has created a signature coconut-based lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and bath soap. We offer our guests a memorable stay, with a variety of experiences they can partake in. Our Marine Discovery Centre, which is good for children and teenagers, highlights sustainability and the importance of protecting our ecosystem. We feed clownfish and release them from time to time. We cooperate with the National Park to find good place where to release them.
We also have a programme for baby sharks, where we release sharks into the ocean every single year. This is a very good learning experience for the new generation to understand how we can save our oceans, and preserve them for future. For anyone interested in snorkelling or coral reefs, we have a coral reef plantation, in collaboration with the National Park, which is growing.
Another experience we recommend is the mangrove forest kayaking, where guests can kayak through the trees. We plant new mangroves behind the village to expand the area. Guests can also visit small islands around the property, like the bamboo island, where they can snorkel or dive.
What drew you to join SAii Phi Phi Island Village?
This hotel is very focused on sustainability, and they care about the local people. For example, we have a waste-management programme, and support the local community by transporting rubbish to the mainland, free of charge. People can deposit their rubbish to our area, and we will take it to the mainland twice a month. All we ask is that they separate their rubbish. We also provide a wastewater treatment plant located behind our staff house, which will be completed by the end of year. I think this company really cares about the people, environment and guest experience.
How do you cater to your Indian clientele specifically?
Our breakfast buffet features an Indian corner, with a rotation of Indian recipes for guests to indulge in. The in-house Indian chef comes from the South of India, and can customise the menu to your liking. We also have a wide variety of vegetarian options, for those Indians who follow a vegetarian diet. In the last few months, we have seen a rise in Indian guests, and are hoping to welcome more!